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EU asks its member countries for OK to open free trade negotiations with Japan
BRUSSELS (AP) ¯¯¯ The European Union's executive branch wants to start free trade negotiations with Japan and is asking member countries to give their consent.
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said Wednesday an agreement would generate more jobs and prosperity, as the EU would export more goods.
De Gucht said, "If growth in the next 20 years is likely to come from Asia, then overlooking Japan would a serious mistake in our strategy.
Currently, the EU imposes a 10 percent tariff on goods imported from Japan. Japan imposes no tariff on those from the EU. But officials say Japan has regulatory barriers to imports.
De Gucht said if Japan does not make sufficient progress in dismantling its trade barriers in the first year of the talks, he will end the negotiations.